Toki Pona's community

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janKipo
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Re: Toki Pona's community

Postby janKipo » Sat May 22, 2010 7:54 pm

Also, introducing new content words (nouns, verbs, free standing adjectives) smacks of an essentialism that is foreign to tp specs. It suggests that word or phrase has to have a meaning independent of the circumstances of its use, that some words are for certain specific topics and not for use elsewhere or that general words cannot be used effectively in technical situations, both of which are just not tpish points. Remember again, compounds are not definitions but devices to get the right thing in a given situation and our dictionaries do us something of a disservice by giving them contextless meanings (useful as these often are).
As for the wordlists, the best plan is to assume that any word can occur in any usage and the comments on the wordlist place them in their home category, which determines their meaning (more or less) when used in other categories. There are still some quibbles, but the basic patterns are fairly secure.
Last edited by janKipo on Wed May 26, 2010 1:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Logomachist
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Re: Introducing new nimi

Postby Logomachist » Wed May 26, 2010 1:07 pm

janMato wrote:But to intentionally, significantly expand toki pona's vocab is a radical departure from the original design goals.


I'm not implying that we should give tp a 1000 word vocabulary. On the contrary, I think we should keep the official vocabulary small- just add a few well chosen words here and there for the first tier vocabulary + some technical jargon to enable tp to deal with specific subjects that that it could not well deal with otherwise. But the choice of which words to add into the main vocabulary should not be made arbitrarily, it should be because these words have been coined and are already in use, and they've been vetted by a working group that manages changes to the language.

If this results in tp having a broader application than originally intended (without sacrificing its original design goals) I'm completely fine with that. I would interpret that to mean that tp has <em>exceeded its expectations</em> and become a greater success than originally envisioned.

In fact I think tweaking the vocabulary is necessary in order to meet its original design goals. It was always intended to embrace and make explicit the values of Daoism. I don't think it really does that yet. For example it would be rather difficult to translate The Art of War into Toki Pona.

janMato wrote:it would be better to fork (create a new language without any intention of being compatible with the previous, or aimed at the existing community). Toki pona has prolly a dozen reasonably worked out derivatives and I think that is a good thing.


I disagree. A language with a community that uses it is more valuable than a dead language. If you want to draft new design goals and/or start over from scratch, by all means start a new language. If you're just reaching for a way to phrase something in toki pona but the current vocabulary doesn't support it, I think that's a good reason to coin a new phrase which may be picked up by others and work its way into the official vocab. IMO the more this is done the richer Toki Pona gets.

janKipo
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Re: Toki Pona's community

Postby janKipo » Wed May 26, 2010 1:44 pm

<<If you're just reaching for a way to phrase something in toki pona but the current vocabulary doesn't support it, I think that's a good reason to coin a new phrase which may be picked up by others and work its way into the official vocab. IMO the more this is done the richer Toki Pona gets.>>
If you are just trying to find a way to say x in the abstract in tp, then you may well fail, but not through any fault of tp. If, in a concrete situation you want to point to or otherwise indicate x (or use reference to x to indicate something else) and fail, that would be a failure of tp, perhaps. But, aside from precise big numbers and numbers (and letters) used as names, no one has presented a clear case of such a failure. So the need to expand tp (except as noted) has not been demonstrated. I can't define a proton in tp in the abstract, but I can get you to one in a lab, I'll bet.
Sunzi is not particularly a Daoist, though every good strategist has to be one to an extent as going with the flow is almost as important as planning ahead and keeping your supply lines open.

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Re: Introducing new nimi

Postby janMato » Wed May 26, 2010 1:52 pm

Logomachist wrote:
janMato wrote:But to intentionally, significantly expand toki pona's vocab is a radical departure from the original design goals.


I'm not implying that we should give tp a 1000 word vocabulary. On the contrary, I think we should keep the official vocabulary small- just add a few well chosen words here and there for the first tier vocabulary + some technical jargon to enable tp to deal with specific subjects that that it could not well deal with otherwise. But the choice of which words to add into the main vocabulary should not be made arbitrarily, it should be because these words have been coined and are already in use, and they've been vetted by a working group that manages changes to the language.


Lemme make clear I'm referring to base vocabulary, the 125 current words. Compound words (or word phrases with means set by convention) are already here and completely legit, as are proper modifiers. The challenge is finding transparent compound words & phrase. Some concepts don't have really good transparent words that can be made of the base 125, such as equanimity. Anyone can make a phrase to describe equanimity, but few will guess what it means on first or 50th exposure.

If this results in tp having a broader application than originally intended (without sacrificing its original design goals) I'm completely fine with that. I would interpret that to mean that tp has <em>exceeded its expectations</em> and become a greater success than originally envisioned.

In the worlds of conlangs, where most are instantly forgotten, tp is wildly successful. It is a well built pidgin. And just like in real life, users of pidgin want to turn them into creoles. Personally, I think it can become a extremely expressive language while staying in the boundaries already set-- the result though, is not going to be as easy for a newbie to read as toki pona written when everyone was using tp strictly as a pidgin

In fact I think tweaking the vocabulary is necessary in order to meet its original design goals. It was always intended to embrace and make explicit the values of Daoism. I don't think it really does that yet. For example it would be rather difficult to translate The Art of War into Toki Pona.

Not exactly. Tao Te Ching is so erudite and makes so many references to other philosophical tracts it is nearly impossible to understand. That creates a canvas for you to project your own ideas and discover new things. Toki pona doesn't help you understand taoism. Toki pona turns ordering coffee into a "reading-tao-te-ching" experience where everything is just at the edge of intelligibility, where every statement means 100 things and in this search for meaning, from time to time you realize something unexpected about the world you're in.

janMato wrote:it would be better to fork (create a new language without any intention of being compatible with the previous, or aimed at the existing community). Toki pona has prolly a dozen reasonably worked out derivatives and I think that is a good thing.


I disagree. A language with a community that uses it is more valuable than a dead language.

Yes, that isn't controversial. But language is both a specification and a peculiar social convention and getting people to change conventions is worse than herding cats. At least cats can be lead around by the sound of a can opener. The "crazy people" section of the forum is full of proposed changes to toki pona, very few have caught on. A whole new language is more likely to catch on than a community innovation in an existing language. I think this is also borne out by Esperanto's experience, with things like Esperan (esperanto with only the ending dropped), and other community innovations.

If you want to draft new design goals and/or start over from scratch, by all means start a new language. If you're just reaching for a way to phrase something in toki pona but the current vocabulary doesn't support it, I think that's a good reason to coin a new phrase which may be picked up by others and work its way into the official vocab. IMO the more this is done the richer Toki Pona gets.

Yes, few people are against coining new phrases to cover any random concept. (Although jan Wiko is representative of the idea that things like "tool platform" or "allen wrench" isn't supposed to be expressed as a phrase you have to memorize, they'd just be supa and ilo respectively and you'd need to have an exemplar to point at to be any more specific)

Let's use English as example. The lexical category of prepositions is closed. You can't create new prepositions on the fly because the language doesn't allow for it. On the other hand you can create new nouns in English and people will start using them. In toki pona, the idea of closed lexical categories has been taken to almost it's logical limit and it is a basic part of the language.

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jan Josan
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Re: Toki Pona's community

Postby jan Josan » Wed May 26, 2010 4:25 pm

My biggest worry is that all the toki pona vocabulary is quickly memorized, but understanding all the ways that the basic words can be effectively combined takes a deceptively long time. Entertaining community added words would probably mean a lot of new users of toki pona wanting to be creative by adding new words, rather than learning to work with what we have.

However, as jan Mato points out, there is the 'jan nasa li wile ante e toki pona' section of this forum, and people have put out ideas for new words or concepts they think are inexpressible. Chances are no-one is going to say "your right we absolutely need this word" but it's a great way to see how others in the community would tackle the concept given the current words we already have.

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Re: Toki Pona's community

Postby janKipo » Wed May 26, 2010 5:50 pm

Yes, after checkers tp comes chess tp (or, at least -- or at most? -- go tp). In any case, none of us play it very well yet, but some glimmers appear from time to time, when someone puzzles us all and then we see a new way forward by what he did.
I keep trying to think of a real world situation where I need to say "equanimity".
Last edited by janKipo on Sun May 30, 2010 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Logomachist
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TP design goals and evolution

Postby Logomachist » Sat May 29, 2010 8:54 am

I've backed away from wanting to add my own coinages to tp, but I do still hope it evolves to fulfill the needs of its community and doesn't stagnate.

janKipo wrote:Sunzi is not particularly a Daoist, though every good strategist has to be one to an extent as going with the flow is almost as important as planning ahead and keeping your supply lines open.

It reads as very Daoist to me.

janMato wrote:Tao Te Ching is so erudite and makes so many references to other philosophical tracts it is nearly impossible to understand. That creates a canvas for you to project your own ideas and discover new things.

I seem to be in the minority here, but I think the Dao De Ching (and Daoism in general) is more straightforward than is commonly acknowledged. It seems unfair to me that so many seem to regard Daoism as superficial and vacuous.

janMato wrote:Toki pona doesn't help you understand taoism. Toki pona turns ordering coffee into a "reading-tao-te-ching" experience where everything is just at the edge of intelligibility, where every statement means 100 things and in this search for meaning, from time to time you realize something unexpected about the world you're in.

Apparently I must have misunderstood the goal. Now I'm wondering how I would go about creating a language to do what I thought tp was meant for.

janKipo wrote:I can't define a proton in tp in the abstract, but I can get you to one in a lab, I'll bet.

For me that is not good enough. I would like to be able to speak tp in person, but I may never get the chance. I think it's fair to expect that most of us will do our tp speaking on the Internet; as such I hope it evolves in a direction sufficient for textual communication.

janKipo wrote:Also, introducing new content words (nouns, verbs, free standing adjectives) smacks of an essentialism that is foreign to tp specs.

New words are already being added (e.g. "monsuta"). If were were to assume that the 1.0 version of tp magically got everything right before there was a community to test and iterate the language, I think we would be crediting Sonja with abilities she doesn't have. There's no reason a language designer shouldn't take help when it is offered.

janMato wrote:The "crazy people" section of the forum is full of proposed changes to toki pona, very few have caught on. A whole new language is more likely to catch on than a community innovation in an existing language.

Call me an optimist but I think useful innovations will catch on and useless ones won't, and I think that if the language achieves real success and people use it on a regular basis to communicate gradual change is inevitable. Whereas the probability that a bandwagon will form around any new conlang is miniscule.

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Re: TP design goals and evolution

Postby janKipo » Sat May 29, 2010 1:08 pm

Logomachist wrote:I've backed away from wanting to add my own coinages to tp, but I do still hope it evolves to fulfill the needs of its community and doesn't stagnate.

janKipo wrote:Sunzi is not particularly a Daoist, though every good strategist has to be one to an extent as going with the flow is almost as important as planning ahead and keeping your supply lines open.

It reads as very Daoist to me.

In the context of Western thought perhpas, but within Chinese philosophy he is not especially Daoist. All classical Chinese philosophers talk about the Dao, though they have different views of it, but all those views encompass the ebb and flow of fortune and the notion of the right time, both of which are crucial to Sunzi.

janMato wrote:Tao Te Ching is so erudite and makes so many references to other philosophical tracts it is nearly impossible to understand. That creates a canvas for you to project your own ideas and discover new things.

I seem to be in the minority here, but I think the Dao De Ching (and Daoism in general) is more straightforward than is commonly acknowledged. It seems unfair to me that so many seem to regard Daoism as superficial and vacuous.

Gee, my problem is with people -- just about all of those I know who mess with it at all -- who think it is startlingly profound and mysterious. "Straightforward" seems an odd adjective to use, though (especially in contrast with "superficial and vacuous") for a book that generally makes its points by poetic metaphors and really awful puns (untranslatable -- and many don't work even in modern Chinese, I am told). But once you get around that, it is pretty straightforward about its goals, though less so about how to achieve them (the daiqi/qigong references in the text are few, far between and questionable -- I am told, again). The potshots at other schools are also less obvious here than in Zhuangzi, for example, but present from time to time (the long anti-Confucian bit about knowing good as good being the source of evil being the most obvious).

janMato wrote:Toki pona doesn't help you understand taoism. Toki pona turns ordering coffee into a "reading-tao-te-ching" experience where everything is just at the edge of intelligibility, where every statement means 100 things and in this search for meaning, from time to time you realize something unexpected about the world you're in.

Apparently I must have misunderstood the goal. Now I'm wondering how I would go about creating a language to do what I thought tp was meant for.

As a general exegetical rule, take a salt lick with you when reading Mato; he is creative in his appreciation of tp -- not a bad thing, but one to be aware of before making generalizations about tp on that basis. tp is a language aimed at a very simple interactive context, for which it aims to provide the minimum (not that it is going ballistic if it is found that there is some redundancy) linguistic tool to carry on. This involves a sensitivity to context which can often be papered over in larger languages where the whir of words (nice Maori phrase that I can't remember) (intertextuality in the recent argot) creates context beyond the present context. It isn't meant to be ambiguous, quite the contrary, since ambiguous languages are useless for communication. It just is that, out of context -- or in oblivion to context, a number of possibilities -- that were not intended -- may present themselves. And sometimes we find that our tuning to context was not so hot, in which case we find a startling meaning (intended) in a mysterious utterance.

janKipo wrote:I can't define a proton in tp in the abstract, but I can get you to one in a lab, I'll bet.

For me that is not good enough. I would like to be able to speak tp in person, but I may never get the chance. I think it's fair to expect that most of us will do our tp speaking on the Internet; as such I hope it evolves in a direction sufficient for textual communication.

I'll settle for a virtual lab, composed of people clearly talking about the same general thing from the same general background

janKipo wrote:Also, introducing new content words (nouns, verbs, free standing adjectives) smacks of an essentialism that is foreign to tp specs.

New words are already being added (e.g. "monsuta"). If were were to assume that the 1.0 version of tp magically got everything right before there was a community to test and iterate the language, I think we would be crediting Sonja with abilities she doesn't have. There's no reason a language designer shouldn't take help when it is offered.

Yes, there is debugging going on still and perhaps for a while yet, though, numbers aside, I don't see a lot to be done (but you never do until it smacks you in the face). The additions have been made with (too?) great care and after (too?) long consideration. What you seemed to be proposing smacked of a much more casual intro-on-the-fly approach, which would not be a good idea for the language as presently understood. Yes, suggestions are called for (though not followed up much, that I can tell), so it is the manner, not the matter, of introducing new words that is the problem -- if there is one.

janMato wrote:The "crazy people" section of the forum is full of proposed changes to toki pona, very few have caught on. A whole new language is more likely to catch on than a community innovation in an existing language.

Call me an optimist but I think useful innovations will catch on and useless ones won't, and I think that if the language achieves real success and people use it on a regular basis to communicate gradual change is inevitable. Whereas the probability that a bandwagon will form around any new conlang is miniscule.

Though it happens with some frequency -- about 10 in the last 10 years, though three with commercial backing. Out of God knows how many created, to be sure (a couple thou is not a totally uninformed guess). I do agree that, once ur tp is set in stone and given out to a functioning community (if), changes will enter -- words lost, new ones found, dialects and jargons developed and so on. But that is not where we are (and, indeed, not where conlangs ever seem to be -- some old auxlangs excepted -- at least nominally). First things first (and always for conlangs -- look at Lojban/Loglan -- going on 60 and not yet officially described).

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Re: Toki Pona's community

Postby janMato » Sat May 29, 2010 11:11 pm

Re: change of pace in a language or conlang

If we take the rules of thumb from glottochronology in the IE languages, languages change just barely noticeably in 100 years, become a new language in a few hundred and are unreconstructable after about 10,000. From watching deaf children spontaneously creating their own languages, those languages evolve rapidly initially and then slow down like ordinary natural languages.

In the corpus, after about 2 years after toki pona's birth, it all starts to look the same and new learners adopt those conventions really fast. So at the moment, imho, toki pona is already at the point where convention and "the mob" is deciding, not so much the conlanger deciding, be it jan Sonja or fans in the community like jan Pije (and the other 2, jan Pije emailed me their names).

I suspect the issue with lojban is not that conlang get to stay in that state of being undecided and flexible for longer-- the case with lojban is that it is so hard that no one can learn the conventions fast enough to get a serious community content to just read and write it, where as toki pona was learnable in 2 months and once one feels competent in the language, any major reworking of it seems like a bad idea or at best, an invitation to repeat two months of work. For the lojban fan-- that probably isn't fluent yet-- it's not to painful to suggest a radical change that would make prior art obsolete.

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Re: Toki Pona's community

Postby janKipo » Sun May 30, 2010 9:19 am

Well, glottochronology is a piece of crap, being wrong both historically and statistically, that is to say, procedurally. The general observation is handy, but subject to a large number of counter examples: languages which have changed radically in the last 100 years, say, or ones that have hardly changed at all for a thousand (oddly, the same languages in some cases). The official version doesn't even work very well for I-E (not its creator's specialty), but was moderately good in Chinesey stuff, iirc.

tp has stabilized pretty much, except for Sonja's occasional titivations, and its simplicity probably is the reason. The problem with Lojban is indeed its complexity, though this has seemed to mitigate against innovations rather than to allow them to sneak in, since it has created a central authority which is highly conservative (insofar as it understands what it is it is conserving).

Learn tp in 2 months? What did you do the the other 58 days?


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